What characteristics do you think are necessary for a strong relationship? Do you possess these characteristics? And why?
WE all crave strong relationships; we see ourselves as deserving of it. This week on WhatsApp conversations, the attention turns to something more intrinsic; as much as we want strong relationships, what are the characteristics or factors responsible for it, and how do our respondents measure up in the scales as regards these characteristics:
The most important characteristic necessary for a strong relationship is the ability to separate wants from needs. Many people in relationships and marriages are horrible at this, hence the reason they end up disappointed.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they chose poor partners; it simply means there’s a mismatch because faulty criteria were used.
This can only be explained using an illustration. A few years ago, I ran into a college pal, recently divorced. I asked him what happened. He told me that he and his wife were so similar when they first met. They liked the same music, movies, plays, everything!
But, oops. What is the single most changeable thing about a person? Their hobbies and interests. So when his ex-wife started liking new things and abandoned interest in the old ones, they stopped liking each other. The way he described their marriage was as though it were a protracted distraction that prevented them from really knowing each other.
Do I have the characteristics? Perhaps, but since we are all work in progress, it is safe to say, I will keep pressing towards the high goal I set.
Here is what you need. It would help if you had someone who shuts up and really listens. Someone to communicate with effectively. Someone to confide in, to tell your secrets to. Someone who has your back because they feel for you. Someone who doesn’t judge harshly because they know that they can be a real pain too. Someone who gives you hugs and kisses and dances with you in an empty kitchen after the dishes are all washed up.
Once you’re crystal on what you need from a relationship, it becomes easier to pick your battles—and the ones you do pick are pretty epic.
Do I have this characteristic? Yes and no. I know what I need. But I get greedy. I want someone who fancies art galleries, book signings, and rap music.
Right from the beginning, the most critical necessity for a strong relationship is HONESTY. Pure, complete, open-hearted, and open-minded honesty.
The relationships I have witnessed, where the people involved were not completely upfront with everything, were terrible disasters. It is not a simple thing to be forthcoming or to hear simple constructive criticism, because it is rarely the example we see all around us.
Be who you are, don’t pretend to be who you are not. Being honest is hard, but I get by.
Ideally, mutual respect is shown through actual behaviour and attitudes, in other words, the ability to give and take, all within some balance, not either/or, all/nothing ways of thinking.
Empathy and concern – the ability to put oneself into the shoes of the other. Mutuality, similar value systems, and common ground.
Being capable of oneness and separateness, meaning enjoying closeness and intimacy, and understanding one’s needs for autonomy and being alone.
Answering the other part is a big deal; I presume one can’t be an excellent judge of his own character.
I think empathy and understanding, and compassion is of utmost importance for strong relationships. Resilience is also.
Of course, qualities such as honesty and integrity are immense, but I feel that the ability to understand your partner truly and what they are going through is paramount. It allows you to see things from their perspective and to adjust your expectations accordingly. A large part of this is flexibility and adaptability. Not so much that you lose yourself, but enough to be able to ride out the bumpiness of everyday life. People who can only see things from their perspective and, therefore, set rigid expectations on their partners will not flex with a relationship’s demands. It’s like that fable of the oak tree and reeds. When the strong winds come, the reeds will bend and flex and will survive. The mighty oak may snap and break or simply fall over.
As I learn more about the importance of empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence, I am more driven to deal to others the hand I would love to be dealt with. I falter in resilience and communication, both of which are also big pieces of the relationship puzzle. While I can flex with changing demands, etc., I have great difficulty bouncing back from personal failures and other adversities.
Next week’s question is Which celebrity is your favourite? What do you find attractive about them? To be part of the next edition, send your response to 08136601345 via WhatsApp or SMS.
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